Image: Philip Carr


Janet Cardiff

The Forty Part Motet

1 April - 20 May 2011

The Forty Part Motet is a sound installation by Canadian artist, Janet Cardiff based on the renaissance choral music Spem in Alium (1573) by Thomas Tallis.

Forty separate voices are played back through forty speakers; each placed torso-like in clusters of five and aligned in an oval.

Cardiff uses sound to create emotional experiences of space and intimacy – You can hear the sound move from one choir to another… and then experience the overwhelming feeling as the sound waves hit you.

The Forty Part Motet allows us to wander freely as if in the presence of live performers. We are able to home in on individual harmonies or eavesdrop on irreverent asides – we can turn or back away – follow movements of sound or find new connections within the polyphonic whole.

Cardiff is fascinated by sound as a spatial form. The physical and virtual space that The Forty Part Motet encompasses connects our bodies to the sounds we hear and allows us to climb inside the music.